Intimacy with Boundaries — Find Your Balance Dog Training

Intimacy with Boundaries — Find Your Balance Dog Training

Physical intimacy from a dog… leaning on you, demanding petting/attention by staring and whining, playing/mouthing/teeth roughly with you, protesting/disagreeing with your decisions by barking/redirecting/thrashing about, etc. is a very confusing thing for most people. I really struggled with this several years ago while I was learning how to train my own troubled dog. When we people want to express trust, respect, and love to another human, we allow that person into our personal space where we are most vulnerable and offer them physical gestures like hugs, kisses, hand holding, etc. We also allow and respect their input on our decisions and actions.

Now, there is a huge difference between meeting someone with a hug and meeting someone with a handshake. You certainly wouldn’t hug and kiss a stranger or even someone that you have just met because you don’t know who they are, if you can trust them, if they will hurt you or even if they will be offended by your loving gestures. After knowing someone for a time and getting closer, developing that trust, we humans like to give significance to that relationship by offering intimate gestures as a sign of love, friendship, trust, and respect. It feels good and it’s a huge accomplishment to build these kinds of relationships with other humans. So, what is so confusing is that this is completely opposite with dogs.

The dog who truly ‘loves’ you, respects you and trusts you will not impose himself on your personal space, he will not try to control your decisions and actions nor will he demand petting or intimacy of any kind… he will wait for an explicit invitation. The dog who truly loves you will go lay down on the opposite side of the room because he implicitly trusts and respects your leadership, your decisions, and your ability to protect the family so he doesn’t feel like he needs to take over any of these roles (which he is completely ill equipped and unqualified to perform). The dog who truly ‘loves’ you offers you the ultimate sign of trust and respect which is following your leadership and respecting your space.

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